- Day 38 – Aizu Wakamatsu to Fukushima
- Distance: 75.5km
- Ascent / descent: 1155m / 1169m
- Weather: Sunny and hot
- Accommodation: Youth Guest House Atoma, ¥3,030
Talk about amazing hosts! Yesterday when I declined oatmeal for breakfast it was because I can’t have milk (so they made me eggs which was just as fantastic!) Then last night before bed, Veronica showed me a carton of soy milk that she had brought specifically to be able to make oatmeal for me this morning so that we could all eat breakfast together. What a wonderful gesture! So breakfast today was oatmeal, sliced apple, fried eggs and coffee, what a way to start the day! I really was sad to say goodbye but I know we’ll meet again somewhere, sometime.
Leaving Aizu Wakamatsu resulted in quite a few arguments with my bike app Komoot as it tried to make me go off-road yet again, onto what became a dead end, and to make matters worse, it was uphill! ‘You have left the tour, take a look at the map,’ Komoot says all too regularly these days. Grrrrr! You could call it user-error because there is a way to see if Komoot is routing you on any unpaved roads, but I only just realised this! (I also feel like it should have a pop-up warning telling you this with the option to decline.)
Anyway, after I finally reached the top of the hill, I eventually came to Lake Inawashiro with the mandatory animal-themed boats. (Actually, not all Japanese lakes have animal-themed boats, Hakone has pirate ships!)
I had a great view of Mt Bantai which lasted for most of the day.
Even though I’d had a hearty breakfast, my body was still saying no. Probably because yesterday’s rest day resulted in a 75km bike ride up a very big hill! So I stopped at the first cafe I found for an injection of sugar in the form of tiramisu – I know how hypocritical this sounds that I don’t drink milk but that I would order a tiramisu – trust me I regretted the decision as soon as it landed on the table and was a cup of cream with a very very thin layer of sponge on the bottom. At home if I ordered this with Howard, he would eat all the cream and I would eat just the sponge…
It was a long, hard climb that really seemed like it was never-ending. Route 115 was busy with trucks and a tiny shoulder that I was trying to keep out of because the paving was so uneven. However at one point a large truck passed and I was forced into the shoulder quite suddenly and very nearly ran over a snake. I shrieked, as one would, lifted up my legs as much as I could with a very close passing truck and after a few metres, I looked behind to make sure that I hadn’t run over it… and also that it hadn’t hitched a ride on the back of my bike. Thankfully I saw it slither away but that was the last time I entered the shoulder on that road! Up, up, up. I started to think I would be camping on the top of the mountain surrounded by snow because progress was so slow!
I got to the point where I was no longer allowed to continue along the highway but had to turn off and take the old road. This was great as it meant no more trucks, actually no traffic at all and it was very peaceful.
When I reached the top, there was still snow lingering and the temperature had dropped dramatically. Storm clouds also started to gather so I wasted no time and started the descent straight away.
The descent lasted for a very long time and finally around 5pm I entered civilisation and passed a 7-Eleven. I connected to wifi to see if there was anywhere nearby to stay and there was a Youth Hostel just a couple of kilometres away (along my route), so I booked it, bought some dinner from the convenience store and made my way there. The Youth Hostel was quite out of the way, as many of them are in my experience in Japan, but that was fine by me and it had a great view of Fukushima in the distance.